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Five industry influencers to watch out for in 2018

From maverick Peruvian chefs to Matrix-building entrepreneurs, these are the five industry influencers we think are worth keeping an eye on in 2018.

One is, to all intents and purposes, building The Matrix. Another is the mastermind behind Gen Z’s preferred method of communicating online. Another still is changing the face of high street fashion by championing sustainability and affordable luxury. 

As for the other two; let’s just say they’ll change what cars we drive and what ingredients go into our food.

These, then, are the five industry influencers to watch in 2018. Why do they matter? Well, they’re the standard-bearers not only of their respective industries, but of key innovation topics – from luxury and digital to sustainability and wellness – that we’ve identified.

As such, the projects they’ve got lined up will have a real cross-industry impact.

5. Ulrika Bernhardtz – creative director, Arket

By focusing on sustainability, quality and affordable luxury, Bernhardtz is helping H&M-owned lifestyle brand Arket – which opened its doors on London’s Regent Street in August 2017 – to change the face of high street fashion.

“We want to be a destination that goes behind apparel and addresses a very busy customer with higher demands,” Bernhardtz told Harper’s Bazaar on Arket’s opening. “Our goal is to democratise quality and bring that to a broader audience.”

4. Floris Schoonderbeek – designer, Studio FS

Schoonderbeek is the man behind Lolo, a smart charging station for electric cars that talks to other batteries. Its accompanying app, Love to load, lets drivers know where charging stations are available, and where they can go ‘guerrilla charging’.

Developed for European electric-charging company NewMotion, Lolo’s – and indeed Schoonderbeek’s – aim was simple: to facilitate a mass switch to electric driving. And it seems to be working: after NewMotion held ‘plug-in parties’ to change perceptions of electric cars, it was sold to oil giant Shell in October 2017.

3. Herman Narula – chief executive, Improbable

Narula’s worth keeping an eye on for one reason: he is, via his gaming start-up Improbable, essentially building The Matrix. Its SpatialOS platform, which enables developers to build incredibly complex virtual worlds, will be used in a number of ground-breaking games in 2018.

“Our goal is to literally alter the way we live and work,” the Cambridge-educated entrepreneur told Business Insider in May 2017. “We are creating a new space, and we’re building a new ecosystem around us, and that ecosystem is here to stay.”

2. Jasmyn Lawson – culture editor, Giphy

Lawson’s (extremely fun-sounding) job is to curate gifs that reflect what’s trending in pop culture. She is, then, the mastermind behind the visual tools used by Gen Z and Gen Y to communicate online. The virtual world would be a lot duller without her.

Her influence will be felt more acutely in 2018 as she makes Giphy’s gifs better reflect diverse cultures, genders and attitudes. “A big part of my job is making sure there’s a good amount of representation and diversity in the things I curate,” Lawson told Cosmopolitan in May 2017. “I feel like a person people really depend on to help them find things that are impactful and relate to them.”

1. Virgilio Martinez – founder & head chef, Central/Lima

Somewhere high up in the Andes (11,500ft high, to be precise), on the edge of a remote Incan plateau, is Martinez’s food lab and restaurant. This is where the chef – Peru’s best, according to CNN Travel – employs foragers, botanists and anthropologists, who explore how ingredients grow at different altitudes. 

Their findings will almost certainly shape the menu at Central 2.0, Martinez’s soon-to-open flagship restaurant in Lima. Eatery aside, the new-look Central will include space for Mater Iniciativa, the chef’s research arm, and Kjolle, an accessible concept “where locals can come without a reservation”.